Drago Lovrić, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, Michèle Boccoz.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ/ lsd

Croatian President and Armed Forces Supreme Commander Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic on Tuesday presented Chief Of Staff General Drago Lovric with the King Petar Kresimir IV order, while French Ambassador Michelle Boccoz presented him with the French Legion of Honour order, bestowed on him by President Francois Hollande in January.

Lovric was awarded the Croatian decoration for his outstanding contribution to the creation of war strategy and military doctrine, the establishment of the Croatian Armed Forces and success in leading their units. He received the French decoration for his outstanding contribution to peace and stability in Europe, his committed and active work in the strengthening of Croatian-French cooperation as well as within NATO and the European Union.

Congratulating Lovric, whose five-year term expires this month, Grabar-Kitarovic said the Croatian Armed Forces developed considerable defence capabilities under his term, both independently and within NATO, as well as undergoing a major command and administrative reorganisation.

Ambassador Boccoz said the French decoration bestowed on Lovric combined a soldier's courage and commitment to serving one's nation.

She said Lovric was decorated as a soldier who defended his country despite the risk to his own life, as an officer who served his country all the way to becoming its military chief of staff, on which position he was "a builder of regional stabilisation, dialogue and cooperation between neighbouring countries."

Boccoz also highlighted the military reform carried out by Lovric so that Croatia would have a modern and experienced army capable of participating in all EU and NATO operations for the common security. "From the mountains of Afghanistan to the plains of Kosovo, from the coasts of Somalia to the sands of Golan, the Croatian Armed Forces have shown their worth, discipline and efficiency," she said.

"This decoration is also part of a wider plan to bring Croatia and France closer, as reflected by a defence agreement signed in Paris in 2013. Our countries have recently cooperated closely and concretely several times. As two EU nations, we are called upon to face the challenges of collective security together. Let this decoration that I present to you, for the first time in independent Croatia, also mark this important step in bilateral relations in the areas of defence and security between France and Croatia," the ambassador said.

Thanking Grabar-Kitarovic and Hollande, General Lovric said he saw the two decorations as thanks for his exemplary and loyal service to the homeland and as a crown of his career.

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